The Crown fact check: How accurate is The Crown? What’s fact & fiction? Episodes explained

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Season four of The Crown is set during the years 1977 until 1990 and covers many historical events including the marriage of Princess Diana (played by Emma Corrin) and Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) as Prime Minister, apartheid and the Falklands War. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about the historical accuracy of The Crown season four.

How accurate is The Crown? What’s fact & fiction?

The Crown is created by playwright, Peter Morgan.

The series is set against the backdrop of a real historical timeline and events, but creator, Morgan, has used blended historical fact with fiction to tell the story of the British Royal Family.

Royal expert Marlene Koening exclusively gave her thoughts on the show’s accuracy.

She said: “No, it is a fictionalized account of living and dead people.

READ MORE The Crown season 4: Did Prince Philip like Princess Diana?

“The characters are real, but their stories, their lives, are not always presented with historical accuracy.”

The fourth series sees the marriage and subsequent breakdown of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationship, Princess Margaret’s personal struggles and introduces all of the Queen’s children, but what is fact and what is fiction?

Historian Robert Lacey serves as the show’s historical consultant, who told Town and Country mag there are “two sorts of truth” in The Crown.

He said: “There are two sorts of truth. There’s historical truth and then there’s the larger truth about the past.

Creator Morgan told The Times: “We do our very, very best to get it right, but sometimes I have to conflate [incidents] . . . You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake the truth.”

Episode 1 – Gold Stick

The first episode of The Crown addresses the death of Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) in August 1979.

As seen in the series on Monday, August 27, 1979, Lord Mountbatten was killed during a family trip to Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland.

He was assassinated by a hidden bomb on his fishing boat, Shadow V, which had been moored in the harbour at Mullaghmore, 12 miles from the border with County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

The bomb had been placed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, Thomas McMahon the night before.

Onboard the boat at the time of the explosion was Mountbatten’s eldest daughter, Patricia, Lady Brabourne; her husband Lord Brabourne; their twin sons Nicholas and Timothy Knatchbull; Lord Brabourne’s mother Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne; and Paul Maxwell, a young crew member.

Mountbatten was pulled alive from the water following the explosion but died of his injuries before being brought to shore, reported the BBC.

His grandson, Nicholas, 14 and boatman Paul, 15 were killed by the blast and Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne, 83, died from her injuries on August 28, 1979.

McMahon was sentenced to life but In 1998, he was released from prison under the Good Friday Agreement, spending just 18 years in jail.

Following his death, he is seen in a flashback writing a letter earlier that day to Charles where he asks him to find “some sweet and innocent, well-tempered girl with no past.”

In reality, he did not write such a letter on the day of his death but he did write many similar letters, including the one with the famous phrase urging Prince Charles to “sow his wild oats.”

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Episode 3 – Fairytale

In episode three, Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor recreate the real interview of Diana and Charles announcing their engagement.

Prince Charles really did say the phrase “Whatever love means” when a journalist commented the couple “looked very much in love.”

In real life, Diana can be seen nervously laughing at Charles’ comment but in The Crown, she looks confused and angry.

Moments after the interview, Charles is seen leaving for his House in Highgrove and it is later revealed he spent time with Camilla (Emerald Fennell), despite his engagement being announced.

This did not happen in real life, with Diana and Charles dining with the Queen Mother (Marion Bailey) at Clarence House later that evening.

Charles did also not immediately set off for a six-week tour just days after their engagement was announced.

According to The Times, engagement was announced on February 24, 1981, and Charles set off on his tour more than a month later on March 29.

Episode 4 – Favourites

In episode four of The Crown, the Queen is attempting to re-connect with her four children, after hearing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s ‘favourite’ child had gone missing.

Mrs Thatcher’s son, Mark Thatcher (Freddie Fox), really did go missing during the Paris-Dakar car rally in January 1982 with his French co-driver, Anne-Charlotte Verney.

He was discovered four days later in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

Mrs Thatcher’s daughter Carol (Rebecca Humphries) also confirmed in her biography she wrote about her father, Mark was the favourite child.

She wrote: “The rest of us could relax a little because Mark had hung an ‘occupied’ sign on the family’s ‘embarrassing relative’ slot.”

Episode 5 – Fagan

Painter and decorator, Michael Fagan (Tom Brooke) really did break into Buckingham Palace.

On July 9, 1982, 32-year-old Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and made his way into the Queen’s bedroom, the biggest royal security breach of the 20th century.

On July 9, 1982, 32-year-old Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and made his way into the Queen’s bedroom, the biggest royal security breach of the 20th century.

The intrusion on July 9, 1982, was not Fagan’s first break into the palace.
According to Fagan, and as seen The Crown, Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace in June 1982 at approximately 7am.

Speaking to the Independent, Fagan recalled: “It was a double bed but a single room, definitely – she was sleeping in there on her own.

“Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints and it was down to her knees.”

In The Crown, they are seen discussing politics, war and his hatred for Margaret Thatcher and the Queen appears sympathetic.

What was said between the two in the Queen’s bedroom remains unknown, but Fagan is believed to have had approximately 10 minutes of the Queen’s time, as seen in the series.

Episode 7 – The Hereditary Principle

Episode seven of The Crown mainly focuses on the struggles of Princess Margaret (Helen Bonham Carter).

It is true Margaret could no longer serve as Counsellor of State from March 1985 onwards as Princes Edward had come of age.

However, she did not lose all of her other royal duties as a result, which is what is suggested in The Crown.

Elsewhere in the episode, Princess Margaret uncovers the existence of her two cousins, Nerissa and Katherine.

Nerissa and Katherine inherited a defective gene from the Trefusis family.

As a result of their learning difficulties, they were sent to Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives (later changed to The Royal Earlswood Hospital), in Redhill, Surrey

Their mother married the Queen’s brother, Jock Bowes Lyon and in The Crown, the Queen Mother explains to Margaret they were locked away in an asylum because their illness would have had consequences for the monarchy after the abdication of King George.

Episode 8 – 48:1

Yes, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not want to impose sanction on South Africa.

However, 48 countries of the Commonwealth did and as head of the Commonwealth, the Queen was obliged to support their decision.

The episode focuses on the differences between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher.

In the end, Mrs Thatcher agreed to impose sanctions and apartheid came to an end in April 1994.

Episode 9 – Avalanche

Princess Diana really did perform at The Royal Opera House in London.

She took to the stage with dancer Wayne Sleep and performed a routine to Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl.

Marlene Koenig revealed to Express.co.uk Diana did dance with Wayne Sleep in December 1985 and also revealed the routine had been planned and rehearsed.

Ms Koenig told Express.co.uk: “Diana did not perform at the Royal Ballet. It was at Charity Concert at Covent Garden in December 1985.

“She danced Uptown Girl (by Billy Joel) with Wayne Sleep.

“She was sitting with Charles, slipped away and then turned up on stage to dance (she had been working with Sleep) but no one knew that she was going to do this on stage.”

In The Crown, the dance is portrayed as a birthday treat for Prince Charles but the performance took place around a month before his actual birthday.

Additionally, photographs of the routine did not emerge until 1995 and not the day afterwards as seen in The Crown.

In The Crown, Prince Charles Is seen exclaiming to Diana: “What were you thinking?” and calling the performance a “grotesque, mortifying display”.

How exactly Prince Charles reacted to remains unknown.

Unfortunately, there is no footage of the real-life performance left, only photographs.

Episode 10 – War

In 1990, Margaret Thatcher was ousted from the House of Commons as Prime Minister.

She was replaced as head of government and party leader by Chancellor John Major.

In The Crown, Mrs Thatcher is given an Order of Merit by the Queen, a personal gift.

The Queen then went onto appoint Mrs Thatcher Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter in 1995 and attended her 70th and 80th birthday parties.

The Queen was also present at Mrs Thatcher’s funeral in 2013.

Throughout The Crown and today, it is believed Mrs Thatcher and the Queen did not get along but going by the history books, this may not be entirely true.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix now

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